Thursday, October 9, 2014

Digital Signage, Need to Know: The Evolution of Communication, How New Digital Signage Technology Brings Us All Together

- T. Scott Hofheins  

We live in a world of information, innovation and communication. We can instantly communicate to a worldwide audience through the web, or video chat with our loved ones thousands of miles away. Through technology, we are able to make the world a smaller place, learning better, helping better, and sharing better. Indoor and outdoor digital signage is playing a key role in this evolution of communication using new technology and “the cloud” to play an increasing role in both our commercial success, and even help save lives.  

The Beginning

In the beginning, signage was a static call to viewers that you existed. More eye catching and dynamic mediums like internal illumination, neon, rotating structures and changeable copy provided organizations a way to make a bigger impact. While this held steady for many years, thanks to innovators and the human desire to constantly improve, things got even better.


Enter the electronic message center, eventually integrating LED technology. We could communicate multiple messages at different times, and target our message directly to the viewers. This opened doors for both outdoor and indoor communications. Networked indoor message centers showed us flight and gate information, movie times or event information. Televisions displayed custom channels and programming, continuing to give the viewers targeted information, but this was still just the beginning.

Technology then gets smaller and more efficient, and we exchanged our tube TV’s and indoor message centers for full color flat screens powered by computer media players. Low res single color outdoor LED signs are replaced with high res full color displays, able to keep up the expectation of quality viewers now demand. But arguably the important improvement is moving from our localized network of information and content, to the virtually unlimited resources of the internet.

The Cloud and You

With devices now able to connect to “the cloud” we can connect with our viewers in ways we never dreamed of. From a central location, organizations can take the power of their social marketing, targeted advertising campaigns and provide it to audiences across their national or worldwide network automatically, manually or conditionally. Even outdoor LED signage is getting online and connected to this massive database of information giving operators the ability to sync their indoor strategies with their outdoor exposure. We are just scratching the surface of what’s available now, and in the future.

Saving Lives

We can all appreciate the commercial and advertising benefits of this evolution, but what about the community and public well being? By connecting our signage to the larger community in the cloud, we can do some amazing things, including the potential to save lives. Cloud connected digital signage gives us the ability to display public service and emergency alerts immediately and automatically to those who need it most. The more devices we can display important information like weather warnings, and amber alerts the better. People can react quicker, and tragic events can be minimized or avoided completely.

This is what makes the mixture of technology and the communication medium of the web so effective. The cloud gives us the ability to take a potentially large database of public alert data across the country, and automatically filter the information through the use of smart hardware and software. This greatly enhances the speed of message delivery when minutes can mean the difference between tragedy or safety. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved directly on the development of projects integrating this technology, and have seen first hand how important it can be.

The Community

Emergency alerts aren’t the only benefit communities see with this evolution. Better, higher resolution displays mean better readability. Information can be understood more quickly in an pleasant way. Better hardware means outdoor displays last longer and look better, keeping the streets looking good. Indoor digital signage provides an outlet for creativity and aesthetics that let’s to visitors to your your local airport, town center, or business that your community believes in quality and style.

This evolution of communication will continue to evolve inside and outside the sign industry. I personally look forward to being a part of the process, and seeing new technology and ideas come to life. Whether it’s digital menu boards, interactive kiosks or outdoor LED boards, digital signage will continue to be an important communication tool for generations to come.


I hope this post has been informative and helpful. As usual, I welcome ALL constructive comments. Please feel free to comment and add anything I’ve missed, or additional tips you may have regarding this topic. Please visit for many other resources, white papers, and of course: Great looking LED Signs!

**All posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically stated.

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